by Azeezat Fadekemi Sulaiman
The first TV election non debate took place last night with Ed Miliband and David Cameron facing Jeremy Paxman individually before being grilled by a live studio audience moderated by Sky’s Kay Burley.
The first of a series of debates and dialogues between the main Political parties in the run up to the elections, everyone from undecided’s to party stalwarts were glued to their TV screens last night to see which of the leaders would win the first battle. For Labour leader Ed Miliband, there was everything to play for.
Unlike David Cameron, a suave and charismatic incumbent Prime Minister whose government despite launching sweeping cuts on public services, have been generally unscathed thanks to an economy that is growing better than expected, Ed Miliband and labour have struggled over the last five years to convince the British public that he is the best man to kick David Cameron and the Conservatives out of Number 10 on May 7.
The Labour leader despite his best efforts has suffered numerous gaffes and has had to endure ridicule and mockery for his appearance, not least of all is the infamous #baconsandwichgate.
Apart from his looks, Ed Miliband has yet to score well on the charismatometer as many voters, even perennial Labour voters say he just does not strike them as a Prime Minister. Something Jeremy Paxman touched on during his grilling of the opposition leader. Ed Miliband has consistently said he doesn’t really care how the media portray him and reiterated that during his interview on Sky last night. “Who cares?” he said.
“I only care about making life better for the British people. Why don’t we let them decide.”
As expected, Jeremy Paxman went for the jugular, quizzing him about everything from Labour’s poor record on spending to his relationship with his brother David Miliband after Ed pipped him to the post in a contentious Labour election five years ago. Miliband emerged the winner of that duel, with the exception of a few stutters, he fought back, giving Paxman as good as he got. For the most part and even during the audience questioning, Miliband appeared confident, passionate and quite believable. Would this be enough to swing the voting British public his way with only 6 weeks to go? He seemed to think so.
The Prime Minister on his part was in his usual element. He appeared suave and in control during the his turn answering questions from the audience and even the usually blunt Kay Burley paid him his dues, thanking him and ending every sentence with ‘Prime Minister’ as she should. Some would say the PM had it easier than Ed Miliband as he wields the power and assertion of the most senior politician in the land and therefore would command that respect.
With Paxman however, Cameron faltered on a number of occasions, although he regained composure. The main thorn in the bush for him was the issue of zero hour contracts. Defending his government’s record on creating jobs and employment for thousands over the years, Cameron was quizzed over the legitimacy of the claim that employment was up, when in fact almost a million of those jobs created were thanks to the contentious zero hour contracts.
The Prime Minister said he agreed that the contracts were sometimes exploited by employers, but argued that his government has now ‘banned’ the use of multiple zero hour contracts, so people can only work for one company. Pressed further by Jeremy Paxman, David Cameron grudgingly admitted that he himself could not live on a zero hour contract.
Despite his feathers seemingly ruffled in that encounter, David Cameron still came out of the whole event the winner with an instant poll after the non debate giving Mr Cameron 54% over Ed Miliband’s 46%.
Another YouGov Poll showed a tighter gap between the leaders with David Cameron leading by 51% and Ed Miliband with 49%.
Over all, many analysts agreed that Mr Miliband performed ‘better than expected’ as this was the first time he was able to show the British public a different side other than those perpetuated in the media, but it’s safe to say no one expected him to perform better than Mr Cameron.
– Cameron talking about his son Ivan while hailing the contributions of the NHS
– Ed Miliband saying his relationship with his brother was still ‘healing’
– ‘Are you alright?’ asked Jeremy Paxman, to which Ed Miliband replied, ‘Yes, are YOU?’